Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory
Recommended Tent Camping Locations - WI
Wisconsin Tent Camping Trip
Download Recommended Tent Camping Locations - WI
Wisconsin’s US-51 is one of the finest drives in all the Midwest. This highway takes you through the lush greenery of northern Wisconsin and meanders south through the center of the state and passing through such idyllic towns like Stevens Point and Madison.
Let’s start your Wisconsin tent camping journey in what the locals call “The Great North Woods.” The region lives up to its name. Northern Wisconsin is extremely remote and flora and fauna easily outnumber human beings. Starting at the town of Hurley, US-51 winds southeast through northern Wisconsin forests for a ways before heading south near the town of Woodruff. Once a boomtown where people flocked to make a fortune in the iron industry, Hurley is now anything but. In its heyday in the early 20th century, this tiny town boasted more than 75 saloons along its Main Street. Not surprisingly, it also attracted its share of riff-raff and quickly became equally as infamous for its rough-and-tumble streets. Today, Hurley is a normal little town and worth a stop and a visit. Check out the Iron County Courthouse, which houses many artifacts from Hurley’s glory years. If you’re looking for a little fresh air, Iron County is well-known for its hiking trails and more than 50 waterfalls.
Down the road a way you’ll soon find yourself at the two neighboring towns of Woodruff and Minocqua. You can’t throw a stone without hitting one of the pristine northern lakes here, full of walleye and pike. Don’t miss the Dr. Kate Museum, dedicated to the intrepid country doctor who, during the early 20th century, tended to the fur trappers and their families who lived in this remote outpost. Dr. Kate’s fame grew beyond the town’s borders, though, after the success of the hit 1980’s television show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, loosely based on the good doctor’s exploits. Also in town is the Scheer’s Lumberjack Shows, where world-class lumberjacks show off their skills to a large and appreciative audience. Another worthwhile Woodruff attraction is the Woodruff State Fish Hatchery, one of the most sophisticated fish hatcheries in the world.
From Woodruff, consider an eastward jaunt off of US-51 to the delightful town of Rhinelander. A vacationer’s favorite, Rhinelander was also another enormous boomtown that eventually went bust. Rhinelander wisely turned its attention towards tourism and focused its energies on promoting the more than 230 lakes within its 12-mile radius. All are beautiful and a big hit with boaters and anglers. Don’t miss the Rhinelander Logging Complex, an authentic logging camp with logging displays and a one-room schoolhouse.
Back on US-51, head south until you reach the town of Wausau, the first “city” after you exit the Great North Woods. Downtown Wausau offers hours of pleasant walking tours, which take you from the pleasant shops and architecture to the banks of Lake Wausau.
Stevens Point is our next stop, just due south. Located along the banks of the Wisconsin River, this old lumber town has one of the oldest and finest breweries in the Midwest, Point Brewery, the home of Point Beer. Another worthwhile town exhibit is at the Wisconsin Aviary and Forestry Hall of Fame, located on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. During the summer months, don’t miss the town’s Farmer’s Market, the oldest continuously-running market of its kind in Wisconsin.
Looking for some real fun? Want to visit one of the country’s most underrated vacation spots? A decent drive southward delivers you to the Badger State’s top tourist attraction, the Wisconsin Dells. While most of the Dells fantastic landscape can get drowned out by neon lights and assorted amusement parks, there’s as much natural beauty as there is man-made fun. Some venues to consider visiting are the Tommy Bartlett Thrill Show, the American Sci-Fi & UFO Museum, and the Dells Auto Museum. A thrilling ride in one of the many amphibious vehicles, (a.k.a., “ducks”) through the area’s wondrous scenery is an absolute must-do. This way you can experience the Dells on the water and absorb the impressive natural beauty of the area. Your kids will flip. This area is chock full of great Wisconsin tent camping sites too. There are more Wisconsin tent campgrounds available in the area than enough time to mention.
Once you’ve torn yourself away from the Dells (you have to leave sometime), US-51 has also reached its end. But don’t stop now! Jump on I-94 and head south to the state capital of Madison. Arguably the state’s cultural capital as well, this bustling college town is considered the “Berkley of the Midwest” and also offers great shopping, historic homes, museums, brilliant foliage and festivals. Other attractions in town are the University of Wisconsin Arboretum and the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Madison is also home to some great Wisconsin tent camping sites. The American Legion SF has a few Wisconsin tent campgrounds worth visiting in the area.
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